Lardarius Webb Not Up For Permanent Move To Safety


Ravens cornerback Lardarius Webb enjoyed his experiment at safety last week against the Jaguars and is open to doing more of it, as Head Coach John Harbaugh hinted earlier this week.

But Webb isn't ready for any permanent position switch.

"Maybe when I get old," Webb said. "I'm not old yet, though.

"I think safety will suit me well, but I'm still a [darn] good corner. If you're still a [darn] good corner, there aren't too many of those in the league. You don't take one of your best corners and put him at safety. You move him around, but you don't just take him from one of the hardest positions to play and put him in the middle of the field."

Taking Webb off cornerback would mean somebody else would have to step up at that position. If Webb moved there, that would mean Shareece Wright, Kyle Arrington, rookie Tray Walker or Cassius Vaughn would get more snaps at corner.

However, the lack of turnovers this season, has led the Ravens to mixing things up in certain situations and defensive packages.

The Ravens used Webb during deep Cover-2 coverages when they went with five defensive backs. Webb didn't make any plays at safety, but he did display the best hands in the secondary while at corner when he snatched an interception while Kendrick Lewis and Jimmy Smith dropped their chances.

"We think [Webb] has got a pretty good range, and he's got excellent ball skills," Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees said. "And we're just trying some guys out there to see if we can get the best guys on the field and make plays."

Playing safety isn't foreign to Webb. He did it throughout college at Nicholls State and Southern Mississippi. He converted to cornerback when he reached the NFL as a third-round pick in 2009, but the safety instincts are still there.

"It's very natural," Webb said. "There's really not much to learn because I already learned a lot by playing nickel and corner. It all works hand-in-hand."

Webb has also learned a lot about playing free safety from his mentor, and one of the best to ever do it, Ed Reed. Webb and Reed, who is back in town to be inducted into the Ring of Honor during Sunday's game at M&T Bank Stadium, are still in close contact.

A move from cornerback to safety has been successful for other players in the past, but it's often near the end of their careers. It can be a way to prolong their playing days.

Oakland's Charles Woodson, 39, made the switch years ago and currently leads the NFL in interceptions with five. Washington's DeAngelo Hall, 32, just recently made the change this season.

Webb has torn ACLs in both of his knees, but he's still just 30 years old. He said playing safety doesn't come with any less physicality than cornerback. It's just easier to play, with less physical athleticism, so it's a natural progression for older players.

"Not covering a guy one-on-one is easier to play, physically. It's way easier to play," Webb said. "I like challenges though. I like to play a little man-to-man against their best receiver."

For now, Webb likes to utilize his position flexibility. He was already versatile by playing on the outside and inside at nickel. Now he's adding safety to his resume.

"I just love football and love being on the field," Webb said. "So free safety, strong safety, nickel, I'm just glad and blessed that I'm able to do those things. That's a very valuable player that's able to play all the defensive back positions, and I want to do anything to help my team win."

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